Uncanny X-Men #512
Taking a break from unmanageable multiple storylines, company-wide crossovers and mutant-based story arcs, this 38pp stand-alone issue of Uncanny X-Men features the X-Club (Beast’s Science Team), as they finally get down to doing what they originally were formed to do: solve the mutant birth crisis. Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of this team, having joined up in issue #505.
Following Jeffries’ suggestion in issue #509 that they build a time machine, the Beast suggests, over a round of coffee, that they go back to 1906 San Francisco to obtain blood samples from Dr. Nemesis’ parents. The entire team goes, of course, arriving just around the time when Dr. Nemesis’ dad, Nicola Bradley, is about to invent a generator-battery for the Hellfire Club, who would then implant it as a power source into a steampunky-looking Sentinel, the first of its kind.
Dressed in period clothes and an orange t-shirt, Jeffries appears extensively throughout the book as part of the seven member team. An initial attempt to directly obtain the blood samples fails miserably. While the team is sitting around drinking more coffee, trying to figure out what to do next, Dr. Nemesis breaks up the group into two teams; one to obtain the samples from his mom and one from his dad, using one of his best lines ever:
“Old Man, Powerless Girl and Winged Psycho, you go for Mom; Giant Cat, Redneck and New Girl, you go for Pop.”
Translated, that’s Dr. Takiguchi, Dr. Kavita Rao and Archangel on one team, Beast, Mister Jeffries and Psylocke on the other. Don’t get bristled at the “redneck” insult hurled at Jeffries – it’s actually such a wonderfully crafted invective that it would have been much worse to omit him from this derisive tirade!
While the “Mom” team is off saving Mom, the “Pop” team storms into the Hellfire Club headquarters in a somewhat confusing panel: Jeffries is shown either transmutating a light fixture or smashing it, but you can’t really tell. He’s shown manipulating the electricity from the exposed wiring, which is inconsistent with his usual power set. It’s possible that he could have some sort of limited influence over local electric fields, but what we see in that panel might just be a careful control of the wires to aim the sparks around. In any case, the story abruptly shifts to the “Mom” team right after this panel, so we never find out what was up with that electric fist scene.
Shortly thereafter, the Hellfire Club releases its Sentinel, sending the “Pop” team running into the street. While Psylocke and Archangel take out the operators of the Sentinel, Jeffries asks Nicola Bradley how to take out the power source. He then transmutates a nearby antique-looking car (it wasn’t antique at the time, I know) into an awesome lightning cannon powered by nearby electric transmission lines. He blasts the Sentinel with the awesome lightning cannon, causing an explosion which destroys it, but also unfortunately sends a giant serrated piece of shrapnel through Nicola’s chest, killing him. Oh, and the explosion probably caused The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake too, which killed an additional 3000 people or so, probably not one of Jeffries’ best achievements, whatever, that lightning cannon was totally awesome though!
Awesome lightning cannon.
The X-Club then returns back to Graymalkin, the new home of the X-Men, where they drink even more coffee and prepare to retrieve the blood samples left behind for them in stasis. Jeffries, in an absolutely classic scene which could have come out of any of the great Alpha Flight comics of the past, sits at the table and assembles a handheld tracking device from a floating mass of machine parts. He then leads the team right to the stasis tubes in Golden Gate Park.
Jeffries makes a strong showing in this issue, once again driving forward just about all of the plot elements for the X-Club. He has the idea to build the time machine, defeats the Sentinel, builds the tracking device… just about every task they set out to do, he’s involved with coming up with a tech-based solution how to do it. It is just exactly how he should be written. Kudos also to Matt Fraction for writing an excellent time travel issue free of the usual painful headaches of paradoxes, contradictions and (dare I say it?) temporal copies.
The only thing that takes away from this otherwise perfect appearance for Jeffries is the puzzling fact that he destroyed the Sentinel in an indirect way: by blasting the power source with the awesome lightning cannon rather than directly disabling it with his technomorph mutant abilities. But for him to do that, he’d have to run through a hailstorm of bullets coming from the Sentinel, which wouldn’t make any sense to do while he has that antique car and high-voltage power lines right next to him. Also, just as the X-Club faced off with the Sentinel, Beast gave an order to take out its operators, not directly attack the machine. Besides, the awesome lightning cannon is completely excellent, and I’m glad his skills in making lightning-based weapons has improved since issue #506 when he made an awesome lightning gun, which, at the time was also completely excellent, but not as big.
Note: this issue has a variant cover.
||Uncanny X-Men #512 – 80s Decade variant by Stephane Roux